The newest Bradley Cooper film American Sniper opened in theaters last night, immediately proving itself to be a major box office contender. If it can manage to keep up at its current pace, and projections say it likely will, it could end up making the studios a mountain of cash.

American Sniper’s take on Friday night was a whopping $30.5 million dollars. With targets now projecting it to blast past initial earnings expectations, the film, made on a budget of $60 million, may potentially even hit the $75-$80 million mark over the course of this Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. It opened in limited release in select cities (Los Angeles, New York and Dallas) on Christmas Day, when according to The Hollywood Reporter, it pulled in approximately $4 million dollars. Now, with its wider release, expanding it into 3,555 theaters, it is poised to crush most of its competition, including that of Blackhat, Paddington, Selma and the latest installment of Taken.

American Sniper was directed by Clint Eastwood and is based on the real-life story of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. The movie follows him as he saves countless lives with his pinpoint accuracy during the war in Iraq. While he becomes known as somewhat of a legend on the battlefield due to his spot-on marksmanship, his life at home is in shambles. After four tours of duty, his relationship with his wife and kids suffers due to his inability to leave his soldier life behind.

American Sniper was recently announced (somewhat surprisingly) to have been nominated for two Academy Awards, one for Best Picture the other for Best Actor for Bradley Cooper. The Oscar buzz, along with Cooper's rising success are both certainly factors in the war film's opening weekend success thus far. Cooper has done an excellent job climbing the ranks to the top of the Hollywood heap, beginning with his success in The Hangover franchise of films. He has since showed off his top-notch acting chops in films like the excellent The Place Beyond the Pines, that went mostly under the radar, and David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle.

This film is being called Eastwood's finest film in years. His movie generally always do quite well but his last smash hit dates back to 2008's Gran Torino, of which he starred and directed. He has done a number of films since, including Invictus and Jersey Boys, but none have reached that level of box office success. Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow are probably feeling pretty good going into this long weekend and if American Sniper can continue to dominate at theaters, executives and Eastwood alike, will find themselves smiling all the way to the bank.

American Sniper co-stars Sienna Miller and Kyle Gallner. See it in theaters now.

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